A little piece of fiction … just a bit of fun, as always I beg your indulgence ….
As a young doctor, freshly arrived in Paris just a month before, Mathilde hadn’t really had the time to make a million friends and organise a social life. But tomorrow was Christmas Eve, and she was determined to make it fun. Her boss told her she would only have Christmas Eve off, and was to be back on duty the next morning … her first christmas away from home, she had to do something special.
Her tiny flat was …well charming. Totally Parisian. A former maid’s quarters, tucked under a zinc roof , no lift, incredibly noisy when it rained, but she had a view over the Eiffel tower, and she enjoyed that privilege each day.
She had moved into her little piece of Parisian heaven just a month before, bringing with her a few pieces of furniture, some mismatched china, a few wine glasses, her grandmother’s silver knives and a Siamese cat called Greige .
Her budget was tight, but she was pleased to have made the flat feel cosy and stylish, it felt feminine, it felt warm, it felt like home.
And now Christmas was nearly here, there was no time to get back to her parents in the south of France; for the first time in her life she had to organise her own celebration. She invited two other young doctors, Julien and Clarisse from the hospital, and the lady downstairs, called Madame de la Garenne who always liked to chat. She was convinced that any young girl in Paris had to be in love and seemed determined to find someone for Mathilde.
Among Mathilde’s sparse furniture were five chairs, and she thought it would have been nice to find someone else to invite, but time just flew past.
Her busy work routine allowed little spare time for planning and baking. The day before the party she bought smoked salmon, and oysters, foie gras and a delicious Sauternes wine. Julien said he’d bring champagne, and Clarisse offered to bring dessert. During the afternoon Madame de la Garenne knocked at the door with a big box of macarons “this is for our little party this evening ma Chérie, oh yes and by the way, do you know that there is a new person in the flat just below you. I believe they are on their own too, so I slipped a note beneath their door and said they should come to your party! Did I do the right thing?!”
Mathilde was surprised, but by now it was already 5 in the afternoon and she had no time to argue, “oh well, then I can use all my chairs!” , she bid Madame goodbye and got back to her preparations. She only had an hour or so to decorate the flat and make it feel welcome.
She started with the tree, a tiny perfectly shaped little tree, that brought the perfume of a forest into her flat, and stood neatly on a table beside the window. She had forgotten to buy any christmas lights, and she didn’t have any decorations, “oh dear, it looks rather plain” … her eyes landed on the box of brightly coloured macarons ” voila!” a needle and thread was all she needed to quickly transform the little patisseries into beautiful and edible tree decorations!
She laid the table with care, using a beautiful linen cloth that also came from her grandma, the china and crystal sparkled in the candlelight.
At half past seven Julien and Clarisse arrived, laden with red roses, bottles of champagne, and a beautiful traditional chocolate log for dessert. They oohed and aahed at the table, and took a peek inside the fridge.
Julien disappeared for a few minutes and returned with a box of petits fours, purchased at the boulangerie on the corner of the street. “Oh what a shame we don’t have any cocktails to start the evening off with, said Mathilde.
Just then the bell rang and Mathilde swung open the door to reveal a triumphant and beautifully dressed Madame de la Garenne, on the arm of a tall young man, who in turn carried a large glass ice bucket, with a silver ladle protruding at an angle from the top. Madame had a twinkle in her eye …. ‘Mathilde Chérie, let me introduce you to Frederic, “
” Bonjour”, he smiled, ” thank you for letting me come to your party. It was very short notice, and I didn’t have time to buy you a gift, but I made you my favourite cocktail with champagne, cognac, amaretto and a little orange – I hope that’s alright”
Mathilde stood speechless, not knowing which to admire the most: Frederic , the cocktail or madame’s glinting eye.
Their evening went on long into the night, as they enjoyed the food, the champagne and of course the cocktail. With each person taking their turn to raise their glass and propose a toast, until finally it was Mathildes turn, and she lifted her glass and said “Merci, you have given me the best Christmas Eve ever, and a new definition of christmas cocktails. Not only those we drink, but those we create. I now know they should always be made together and shared “
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